This latest PDC has been a real eye opener in terms of what the future really means for Silverlight and how that future can possibly coexists with HTML 5. Well it was clear with the keynote that Microsoft is all in on HTML 5 especially as it relates to Internet Explorer 9. In fact when Microsoft was showing off IE 9 it was nothing to do with plugins, it had everything to do with HTML 5 and video. I think my confusion on the role of Silverlight was based on what were mixed messages during its inception and the fickle standards of HTML 5.
Microsoft President in charge of the company’s server and tools business, Bob Muglia, was asked about the place for Silverlight and his answer was simply that “Silverlight is our development platform for Windows Phone.” He also suggested that Silverlight also has some “sweet spots” in media and line-of-business applications. So although applications running inside a web browser were the main focus for Microsoft two years ago, today Silverlight is much more than a browser technology.
Silverlight, going forward, will also be outside the browser on the desktop, mobile devices, and in the living room. In fact at the National Association of Broadcasters Committee (NAB) conference Microsoft was able to show manufacturers of set-top-boxes, connected TVs, Blu-ray players and other consumer devices how to deliver full Silverlight experiences, including:
- Information overlays / Picture-in-picture
- High Definition (HD) H.264 and VC-1 video
- Content protection including DRM
- DVR-like capabilities.
- Stereoscopic 3D video
- Live broadcast support
- (Adaptive) Smooth Streaming
- Analytics support with the Silverlight Analytics Framework
So I fully anticipate more from Silverlight in a variety of areas especially in high-quality media experiences, games, consumer and business apps. So my investment in Silverlight has not been a complete waste of time. I can target the 600,000,000 desktops and devices that have Silverlight installed.